I haven't been to the southwestern part of the U.S., and I don't know much about the parks there (other than the fact that I want to visit the famous ones). If I go, what would you recommed seeing? Where to photograph? I'd probably be interested in seeing rock that is especially colorful. Best times of day? How to avoid tourists? Any special photographic techniques? If I could only visit a couple (likely on any trip I'd make), which ones first? (Would the arid landscape give me a "dry" sense of humor?) Thanks.
The Utah parks I've enjoyed shooting the most are, in order of interest to me, Arches, Bryce, Dead Horse Point State park and nearby Canyonlands (Islands in the Sky District), the Fisher Towers area, Capitol Reef (especially if you are camping) and the Burr Trail and Hole-in-the-Rock roads in the Escalante area.
I've written articles on two of these areas:
Bryce Canyon: http://chem.dynu.com/photo/bryce.asp
Fisher Towers: http://chem.dynu.com/photo/fisher.asp
Arches is next on my list. I'll be there 12-15 Oct. to get the last bit of info and shots I want before writing.
You might want to look into two pretty good books on shooting in the Southwest from http://www.phototripusa.com/ . I used the first volume a lot in learning Utah.
If you want pictures of red rock to be red, shoot late or early in the day. An enhancing filter also helps. Red rock can often come out rather drab if the light isn't just right.
That's quite helpful. Thanks.
You also may want to look at work by Jack Dykinga.
Good idea - I've known about his work for a long time, but never checked it for places that I might want to visit. Thanks.
Parks in the Southwest...that's a bit like saying, "I'd like a piece of pie...what would you recommend?"
Well, do you want a meat pie? Fruit Pie? Spinach Pie? So it is with parks, both National Parks, National Monuments, and State Parks.
What is it that you're looking for? Do you want to drive to the photo or would you hike for a while? White Sands National Monument is great if you go all the way to the end of the road, get out & hike for a while. (Hint - take a GPS receiver with you - it get's confusing back there.) If you go during a full moon, they'll let you stay out on the dunes until about 10:00 pm. The Monument used to be open 24 hours a day and you could get really nice pre-dawn and sunrise photos - not any more. Now they have "hours."
Bryce Canyon - get out & walk to get the best photos, ditto Arches. Then you get to the Utah parks where you need a good 4-wheel drive vehicle if you really want to get to the exotic stuff + hiking (Capital Reef, Canyon Lands).
Grand Canyon - hard to take a BAD photo if you get up early, stay late and / or weather is moving across. Lake Powell, Lake Mead - rent a houseboat & stay for cruise around.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison....hmmmmm...that's a tough one. Narrow, deep and hard to get a good photo.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, very interesting. Accessible at all hours of the night and day. If you want to go up the Bates Well Road - better have 4-wd.
Carlsbad Caverns - take your time. Take a tripod - take a trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Most of the fun is the drive. Stay off interstates unless absolutely necessary. Learn to enjoy the process of getting there - not just the end destination.
Hey, I just found out that Luminous Landscape (http://luminous-landscape.com) finally published an edited version of my Bryce Canyon guide.